This is a poem for all the nobodies
who got fucked over
by someone with a name
and became ghosts,
who once held blueberries and radishes
and tiny animals in their hands
and now find that these things slip
through the mist that has replaced
the meaty flesh that once made their hands
things they could grip cold doorknobs with,
who once walked with heavy feet
on sidewalks through town
and moved their belongings
from room to room and city to city
in a suitcase they held
their arms around on the bus,
and who found shelter from the rain
by adjusting their hats.
When you’re a nobody
and you’re a ghost,
no one knows what to call you.
There’s no name for your style of haunting,
just the ghost man on the stairs,
or the ghost woman who screams at sunset
on County Road 725, or that thing.
Sleep is disturbed but no one
understands the message,
your ghostly touch startles
but is mistaken
for the buzzing of a fly
or drafty windows
that the living swear they’ll replace
when they can afford it.
You cannot breathe,
you cannot think.
You try to touch again,
but the mist of your fingers disobeys,
your curses cannot be heard,
your existence removed,
over and over, again.
Life, we know, is hard,
and the afterlife may be even harder.
When I was young I lived in a house
with a ghost with no name.
This poem about the ghost was
written in winter under another roof
while listening to the solid sound of rain.
Photograph by Jose Padua